Ursuline vs. Kirtland
Kickoff: Saturday, 7 p.m., at Aurora Veterans Stadium.
Records: Ursuline 12-0, Kirtland 12-0.
Whether it’s on film on or on the field, Dan Reardon considers Kirtland a threat.
Recalling Ursuline’s one-point victory over Kirtland in a regional final at Mollenkopf Stadium in 2008, Reardon would prefer some breathing room.
Instead of an 18-17 win, the Irish coach wouldn’t mind a more comfortable margin when the teams meet again on Saturday in the Division V, Region 17 championship game.
But Kirtland hasn’t changed much.
“There are some similarities, at least the coaching staff and some of the same faces from two years ago,” Reardon said, “but it appears they have a lot of speed and do a good job using different formations, offensively, to keep you off balance.”
As his unbeaten Irish prepare for Kirtland, which is also 12-0, Reardon said that the Hornets do some non-traditional things, both offensively and on special teams.
“It’s not so much defensively, but rather when they’re in control of the ball, they do some different things that present a problem to you, adjustment-wise.”
Reardon complemented his counterpart, Kirtland coach Phillip Laverde.
“Their program has done great since Laverde has been there and this is their second time to the regional finals in three years, so he knows how to win,” he said.
“We have a little history in that they provided us with our closest game on our way to the state title two years ago and our kids remember how good they were. Our kids are expecting a tremendous challenge Saturday night.”
Reardon said both teams have similar philosophies.
“They seem to have similar beliefs in that they’re trying to control the line and run the football and play good run-defense,” he said. “That’s what it takes to be a championship-caliber team.”
Reardon recalled his concern from the 2008 game.
“Controlling the line of scrimmage was critical and something they did a good job of against us was controlling the clock and keeping our offense off the field,” Reardon said, noting that Kirtland made a few fourth-down conversions.
“They went for it a few times on fourth and were able to convert, but, even though they controlled the clock, we were able to pull out the win.”